The countless challenges faced by any small business owner can be overwhelming especially in company management. Online privacy would be the top priority as we all know that the digital world out there and beyond has its dangerous snares – hackers who steal your data, internet services that can torment you maliciously, bots that keep an eye on everything you do and your private data. It’s not at all tolerable at some point. This will damage ones reputation if not controlled.
A small business like yours depends on every client and customer. Therefore, safe connectivity to the internet for all is utmost important and this should be ensured at all times as common sense. One would need a virtual private network (VPN) to add security onto this. VPN’s come with a small cost and affordable but effective nonetheless. If you read on, the best VPNs are featured, mostly for small businesses and home users and maintain your data securely from all nasty threats.
First the How.
Privacy Through VPN Encryption
Safely said that the best VPNs work seamlessly with whatever routine you have and work without you knowing it’s there in the background. So powerful yet easy (and lightweight) to use.
Here’s why VPNs are useful. First we must comprehend and know the workings of the internet. Whenever you click on a url (web link) in your web browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox) your PC sends out a packet of information with a request for data that travels through your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and is sent to the targeted server on the internet where the information is gathered. Then, the data follows the similar path back and displays the information on your screen. All this took a few moments, perhaps a fraction of a second.
Sending data packets this way unfortunately is in an exposed format and the information of who sent it is easily known. It’s like sending a postcard with all the information written on the card that is easily read by prying eyes. VPN however is the envelope for that postcard so not even your own ISP can read or even an incognito hacker just around the corner of your favorite cafe.
Here is where packet data encryption comes in. VPN’s will encrypt the data before it even leaves your handheld device or Desktop PC. It will always be encrypted until the end of its route. The VPN steps in to handle the request sent out meaning that your identity is not embedded within the packets. So, transparently it works like before but it’s just for you only. Sweet!
Best Small Business and Home VPNs Evaluated
There are loads of VPNs out there vying for first place in the market. Too many services with their own promises and variety of features. So, yeah, we get caught up and then confused as to which one does offer the better features and which are most important. Below are the common criteria used to evaluate each of my recommended VPNs for small business and home use. All these VPNs are low-cost with high returns.
- Logging policy – The packets of data that your PC, Laptop or smartphone releases goes through the VPN’s servers. If a VPN keeps logs of the browsing history or any other information you transmit (chats/shares), the possibility of a third party obtaining access is high. VPNs that have a strict zero-logging policy are the best ones to look out for which will ensure any logging would never happen for your own good.
- Jurisdiction – This is closely linked and dependent on the logging policy above. The reliability of a certain VPN weighs much on the jurisdiction of the policy. If at all a company is registered in a country with strict data retention laws, information would be forced to be logged whereby government agencies could request these at any time. Fortunately, all of the VPNs below are located in jurisdictions that place user privacy first.
- Speed – Encryption increases the size of data packets, which often results in a 10-20% slower connection speed than normal. This has given VPNs a reputation for being a little on the sluggish side. Top-quality VPNs have developed workarounds that keep internet speeds high without sacrificing encryption strength.
- Simultaneous users – No matter the size of your small business, it’s likely you’ll want several people to connect to the VPN at once. Most services have a strict limit of just a handful of simultaneous users. To ensure your employees aren’t bumped, always make sure the VPN supports enough device connections.
- Router support – Do you run a small business that offers free Wi-Fi to customers? If you want to protect them through your VPN, you’ll need to install software to your router. Most modern VPN services have detailed guides on how to do this.
- Mobile access – If you have a work phone or plan on traveling, you’ll need mobile access to your VPN in order to stay secure. Good VPNs offer software for most modern devices, so make sure you’re covered before signing up.
ExpressVPN pushes speed and privacy to their limits. The service operates a network of 145 servers in 94 different countries, each with incredibly high overall speed test scores. No matter if your small business is in a town or if you travel around the world, you’ll always be able to find a good connection with ExpressVPN. There’s even a built-in speed test in several versions of the VPN’s software to make it easy to find the best servers.
ExpressVPN’s speeds don’t come at the price of privacy features, either. 256-bit AES encryption protects all of your data, along with DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a zero-traffic logging policy. You’ll also be able to take advantage of unlimited bandwidth and no restrictions on P2P network or torrent downloads, ensuring you have free range of the entire internet for all of your communication and file transferring needs.
More features from ExpressVPN:
- Simultaneous connections for up to three devices, with more available through router installation.
- Secure, easy to use software for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and more.
- Full access to blocked websites, censored content, and VoIP software.
- Knowledgeable support staff with 24/7 available via chat or e-mail.
When speed and security are your top priorities, IPVanish is a great VPN to go with. The service offers strong 256-bit AES encryption on all traffic, delivers a straightforward zero-traffic logging policy, and has both DNS leak protection and automatic kill switch features for most versions of its custom software. These features are backed by a huge network of over 850 servers in 60 different countries, which should give you a fast and steady connection no matter where your business operates.
IPVanish supports small business through a few unique features. For starters, you’ll get five simultaneous connections with every plan, nearly twice as high as most other VPNs. If that’s not enough, IPVanish also offers easy to use router software that ups the limit while providing secured Wi-Fi for your customers and guests.
IPVanish also includes the following:
- Fast, easy-to-use software for PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, even Chromebooks.
- Customer support that’s available 24/7 in case anything goes wrong.
- Unlimited bandwidth, no speed caps, and no restrictions on traffic.
Reliability, speed, and server selection are three of NordVPN‘s best-known features. The company has been around for years, refining its offerings to deliver customers exactly what they need. The most impressive part of the NordVPN experience is its incredible server network, with over 1,000 nodes in 56 different countries (more than twice the size of your average VPN)! This allows NordVPN to deliver customized features to its users, including speed-adjusted servers for lightning-fast downloads and onion over VPN servers for even stronger privacy.
Double encryption is another one of NordVPN’s amazing offerings. Select servers wrap all data in 2048-bit SSL encryption, making each packet so well protected that not even a supercomputer could break the cryptography. There’s also NordVPN’s thorough zero-logging policy that covers everything from traffic to bandwidth, IP addresses, and even time stamps. If privacy and speed are the biggest priorities for your small business, make NordVPN your first stop.
A few of NordVPN’s best features:
- Full-featured software and apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices, including complete router install instructions.
- Strong encryption allows open, private access to the internet even in countries like China.
- Simultaneous access for up to six devices, the highest in the VPN marketplace!
- Jurisdiction in the privacy-friendly country of Panama
VyprVPN approaches the online privacy problem from a few different angles. It starts with 256-bit AES encryption and a zero logging policy on traffic and DNS requests, all essential features to keep data hidden and out of the wrong hands. VyprVPN also owns its entire network of 700 servers in 70 different countries, which allows them to control who accesses the hardware and software and keep third parties completely out of the picture.
The biggest must-have feature for VyprVPN is Chameleon technology. This unique protocol encrypts the metadata attached to each piece of information, defeating even the most invasive methods of data mining, such as deep packet inspection. With VyprVPN and Chameleon in place, you’ll be able to do business in the most restrictive of environments, even in censorship heavy countries like China.
VyprVPN also includes the following features:
- Chameleon technology helps defeat ISP throttling and bypass censorship blocks to maintain open access to the internet at all times.
- Business exclusive features include multiple user management, a dedicated account manager, and a dedicated IP address.
- Support for all desktop operating systems, mobile devices, and a wide variety of routers.
Sign up with VyprVPN today and save 50% off your first month of service. You can also take advantage of the free 3-day trial to test the VPN out before signing up!
PureVPN is a fast, friendly, privacy-aware VPN designed for both personal and small business use. The company runs a network of over 750 servers in 141 countries for incredibly fast, lag-free connections around the world. 256-bit AES encryption ensures all data that passes through those servers stays locked up tight, and zero traffic logs guarantees your private data can’t fall into the wrong hands. You’ll also get to take advantage of easy to install router software along with five simultaneous device connections!
PureVPN operates their entire server network without interference from third parties. All software and hardware maintenance and upgrades are handled internally, which adds an extra layer of privacy to the service as a whole. It also means PureVPN can offer additional features most VPNs skip over, including anti-virus protection, ad-blocking, and anti-phishing measures.
PureVPN’s features at a glance:
- Top-tier business features include dedicated bandwidth, an account manager, and even 24/7 priority support.
- Excellent compatibility with custom apps for all modern operating systems, smartphones, and more.
- New PureVPN 360 for added security against hacking and malware.
Join PureVPN today to take advantage of an amazing 73% discount on a two-year plan, only $2.95 per month! You can even try it risk-free with the company’s seven-day money-back guarantee.
Securing Your Browser and E-mail with VPNs
The weakest link in any privacy environment is always the user. VPNs may provide unbreakable end-to-end encryption, but what if someone forgets to log in? You can also accidentally give away personal information or business secrets through e-mail and everyday browsing. All it takes is one slip-up and your data is out in the wild.
To help create an atmosphere of complete privacy and security, start by paying closer attention to your browser extensions. Disable any plug-ins that aren’t absolutely necessary, as they can sometimes share information without your consent. Once you’ve cleared out the rubbish, add a few smart extensions that increase your privacy.
Browser extensions for improved online security:
- Privacy Badger – An incredible browser extension that works to disable invasive ads, tracking scripts, and browser fingerprinting efforts. Built by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a reliable source of online privacy data and activism.
- Disconnect – Websites frequently track your activity long after you’ve left their home page. With Disconnect, you’ll stop them in their tracks every time.
- HTTPS Everywhere – Another extension made by the EFF, HTTPS Everywhere forces certain websites to deliver secure versions of their page whenever possible. This helps keep especially sensitive data encrypted no matter what.
With your browser ready for the wild web, it’s time to take a closer look at your e-mail habits. Most small businesses use a combination of social media and standard e-mails to keep in touch with customers and employees. Some of these e-mail services encrypt their data, but many others don’t bother. If you want to keep your e-mail truly private, ditch the free webmail service and look into one of the following providers.
Encrypted e-mail services for better online privacy:
- ProtonMail – Feature rich and reliable, ProtonMail is one of the favorite services of online privacy advocates. Includes both web based and mobile access apps, and it’s perfect for small and mid-sized businesses.
- Lavabit – The original encrypted e-mail provider with a long history of fighting against online surveillance. The interface is less friendly than its competitors, but you can’t beat the huge list of privacy features.
- Tutanota – Tutanota aims to be a fast and easy e-mail service that carefully preserves user privacy. It’s a relative newcomer to the encrypted e-mail market, but it offers a great set of basic features.
Facts, figures and comparison credit: AddictiveTips.com